Sunday, February 28, 2010


Hmm. What have I got to say today? Not too much. On days like these I should just close the computer and not force you to read drivel. Writing is a habit I can't break. I guess I don't want to.

Which leads (I knew it would lead somewhere) to the fact that I can't write in Japanese. And I've always wondered if the frustration of being illiterate for more than 30 years is why, when blogging entered my life, I've gone completely manic and feel like I have to write something!

Yesterday I was "writing" my resume for the crosswalk job. That hasn't been approved yet, I was asked to send in a resume. So I sat there with pen in hand saying things to Tetsu like,

"Umm. Is there a "to" or an "in" or an "of" in there? (I have trouble with prepositions.) Is that word supposed to be in formal Japanese (honoring the person reading the words) or in informal Japanese? (humbling myself.) I can't remember how to write that Chinese character. I'm using all the simple characters for this. Oops. Made a mistake there. Where's the White-Out?"

Tetsu, who didn't think writing in a daily crosswalk log was going to be much of a problem for me, seemed to be having second thoughts.

"Come on, Tanya. You can't use a lot of White-Out on a formal resume. You're going to have to start over. What? You don't remember how to write that simple Chinese character? You know, when you speak Japanese I don't notice how much you DON'T know."

"Thank you, Tetsu." (I think...)

I had thought when I came to Japan that I would study Japanese writing and be able to read and write anything in a few years. WRONG!

When we were married I tried to get Tetsu to teach me to write Japanese. As anyone who tries to learn how to drive with husband as a teacher will tell you, this is a good way to end a marriage quickly.

I thought I'd do Takumi's homework with him when he got to elementary school and we would learn to write Japanese together. Hmmm... Can't keep up, BUT I have another chance when Leiya hits elementary school.

33 years later I don't know what my excuse is for not being able to write Japanese but I scribble along furiously at 1st or 2nd grade level. (And that's being optimistic!)

I'm hoping that if I become a crosswalk guard and am FORCED to write in a daily log, that my Japanese will improve! I can just see you out there shaking your head and saying,

"Tanya's letting herself in for a lot of headaches. A glutton for punishment?"

Of course, when the city officials see the Japanese on my resume, they may put it quietly away and tell me to apply again AFTER my Japanese has improved.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sisterly love

You do not want to know how long it took me to delete comments yesterday and this morning... I found more in my old posts and some were in English and Spanish. So now I've put moderation on posts over 14 days ago and I caught a couple this morning too. It must be all computer generated. It makes no sense otherwise. People, no matter how weird, couldn't have that much free time! I sure don't have the free time to spend my hours deleting! We'll see how moderating comments goes before trying passwords.


Okay, on to other, NICER things!

I was at Mrs. Furui's house Thursday and the first thing I notice is a Work-In-Progress that wasn't there a month ago. What HAVE you been doing, Mrs. Furui?

Another baby quilt! It is almost disgusting how many nice things Mrs. Furui makes and all of such heirloom quality. Sometimes I wonder why I bother! Every last inch of this is hand pieced and hand quilted. The colors soft and sweet. The whimsical placement of the blocks. The carefully chosen quilting patterns for the circles. The complicated quilted border.

Would you make a quilt like this for your grandchild? Yes, you would. It is absolutely darling. Would you make a quilt like this for your sister's friend's baby whom you will never meet? No, I would not. Not with all the time and thought and love that went into this!

"Mrs. Furui, you are scary! What are you going to do someday when your own children have babies? How are you going to be able to top this?"

Message to Mrs. Furui's sister.

"Please treat Fumiko-san to an expensive French lunch and a buying spree in a quilt shop!"

Friday, February 26, 2010


I am upset this morning. In my Gmail box there was a comment about one of my blog posts. The comment was in Japanese and it was to an OLD post. It wasn't anonymous (those don't come any more into my mailbox). So I went back to the old post and clicked on the comments button to see what the person had said. (Instead of reading it in Gmail.)

Once in my comment box I find that there have been many more comments. All in Japanese. And with my poor Japanese reading skills I tried reading one. Shall I say my face burned? Or that I burst into tears? Or that I felt violated? You get the picture.

My first reaction was to DELETE FOREVER! as fast as possible, which I did, but there were others. In fact, going back to the post box I discovered that there were 182 comments, the last 159 in Japanese and offensive. I spent about 30 minutes frantically deleting but I have not come to the end.

I do not want this filth in my comments box. Even though people don't really visit the old posts, even though they don't read other people's comments to old posts, even though all this junk is in Japanese, I DON'T WANT IT THERE!!!!!

I could delete the post altogether ridding my blog of contamination but I liked my own post...

The bigger problem is to how to protect this from happening again. As you know I have never put comment moderation on my blog. I find it a slight nuisance to put in passwords and stuff when I go blog visiting and I liked the trusting, friendly feeling of just allowing people to comment as they like. I've never had a real visitor who was offensive. There have been occasional spam like things that seem to be selling something or generically say "great!" and then ask me to visit their website but I usually ignore those or delete them. I had noticed that the number of spam things have been increasing but they have all been in English.

This morning's infiltration is all Japanese, and all within an hour or so... I do not know why that one particular old post was chosen and I'm wondering now how many other old posts have offensive comments in them that I have never been aware of... Do I go back and check all of them?

I will see what happens over the next couple of days... If this happens again I may resort to the moderation-password option. I will be sorry to do that but it is better than being afraid to read my own blog...

I'm going back to my deleting now...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On top of the world

I'm off to a mini-patchwork group meeting... Three of the ladies can't come today.

Rumor is that the Mini-Round Robins aren't going so well. One lady who hates quilting anyway (she likes to piece) has been busy caring for her ailing parents so she can't do the quilting stage of her MRR. Mrs. Furui (the professional of the group!) is at a loss about what to quilt on hers and has sat staring at it for a month. Her opinion is that these are really more suited for machine quilting (an overall pattern or something) but since no one but me does machine quilting, everyone is at a stand still... Don't look at me please! I have enough to do! The goal of passing the MRRs on to the next person for binding today will not be met...

And for no other reason than that they are cute, here are Toi and Cleo demonstrating elevation therapy. Toi has decided the dog towel basket on top of the dryer is a good place to relax until Mom lets him out of the laundry room. Why get upset about life (like Patora)? Just find as comfortable place as possible and take a nap.

And last week I brought home a bolt of batting which I store on top of the quilting shelves Tetsu made for me. Cleo has discovered that this is a WONDERFUL, fluffy place way on top of the world and he is now living with Velvet in the sewing room. I don't know how happy Velvet is about the situation but as long as Cleo stays up on the batting, Vel will stay down in his cave (box under the ironing table).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Territory Enlarged

This is a boring post. I'm just trying to reassure myself that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do.

Last week I had a phone call from the neighborhood elementary school principal. She contacted me with a "request". I have known the principal for the past couple of years and she often comes to the crosswalk that I man every morning when the children are going to school. I have been a volunteer crosswalk guard for the past 8 years. Five days a week I go out with my homemade flag and spend about 30 minutes at the crosswalk until the 15 or 20 children leave the neighborhood.

The school principal asked me to consider a paying job at the SCHOOL crosswalk. The man who has been the crosswalk guard is retiring after 10 years of work and the city must have a crosswalk guard in front of every school. Since I have already been doing this for 8 years the principal wanted to recommend me for the position.

"You will be helping so many more children, Tanya. It is a necessary service for our small community. It is a paying job!"

I thought about this a couple of days. Yes, I have a love for the children and feel confident that I could continue doing what I've already been doing as a volunteer. I have settled in my heart that I want to be of use wherever God leads me and with a door opening up like this I feel this is what I should do. I have turned down jobs that took me to the other side of the town or that required I stop teaching where I already teach. A job that can be completed early in the morning, leaving me to teach or sew as I always have done sounds very appealing. I was a bit concerned about leaving my current post but there are other volunteers that come occasionally and maybe if I am not there they will commit themselves daily. At any event the chairman of our neighborhood who already comes to the crosswalk is fully behind me moving down the street to the school…

Moving to the school crosswalk will mean I have to leave the house earlier and stay longer. Tetsu isn't opposed to that. It will mean he is the one who will have to put out the garbage twice a week but he is willing. It will mean we don't have a leisurely cup of coffee on weekdays but that's okay with him too. "We could always wake up earlier." We get our chatting time in on our walk with Choco anyway.

Today I went to talk with some city officials about formally applying. Actually they admitted that there isn't anyone else applying so this is just a formality.

BUT… I didn't realize, but should have expected, a lot more "duties" are involved in this job. Even though everyone assures me that I don't HAVE to do everything, it is ENCOURAGED and has always been that way (the message was they expected me to follow the procedures but were willing to overlook a few lapses…)

1. A crosswalk guard must always wear her uniform. Oh glory be! A little skirt and jacket and hat? Gulp… This is going to be a great joke on me. I may never live this down. Forget it, Tanya. That's your pride talking. What you wear doesn't change the fact that you will be performing an important service. Okay. I can live with this rule.

2. A crosswalk guard makes daily entries in a log.

"Wait a minute, please. I do not write Japanese. At least I don't write it well. Second grade level at best. I am not going to be able to write in a log and send regular reports."

"No, no. Don't worry about that. You can just write things like "It is cold today." "The children looked happy." It doesn't have to be long and tedious."

As my blog friends know, I am pretty disciplined about writing daily… Well… a line a day in Japanese? Maybe… Discipline Tanya, discipline…

3. A crosswalk guard attends seminars to keep up to date on traffic rules and get feedback from other crosswalk guards.

"You'll make friends. We have a lot of fun."

I don't really need to make friends. I just want to perform a service. I told the officials that I work daily. I'm not going to be able to come to their monthly seminars.

"That's okay. Just attend when you can." (I'm saying, not much at all!) "You'll have to attend the first one to get the lowdown on what to do. You'll have to attend the ceremony where the former crosswalk guard retires and the position is passed on to you. After that you can attend when it fits your schedule. Oh, and we have an overnight seminar once a year too."

"Besides the first couple, I don't think I'm going to be able to attend overnight seminars or monthly seminars at all. I teach daily!"

"Okay, well, we'll work around it then, but do attend when you can." (…That's what I'm trying to tell you… I don't think I can…)

"And then there is the farewell ceremony at the school. Of course you'll come to that because you are invited even as a volunteer and there are the Entrance ceremonies at school which you'll need to attend because you have to be introduced to the students."

Sigh. And I thought I was just standing in front of the school every morning… The first two months may be hectic and take a lot of schedule shuffling… But I HAVE warned them that I don't have a lot of free time (except in the mornings…)

Hey, this may not be any worse than the dumb traffic committee I was a member of for four years. That was pretty bad but I didn't get paid for that.

I've got to remember not to complain about any of this to Tetsu since he didn't really see why I would want to take an official crosswalk position anyway.

"They say they need me… Hey, I'm 55. People don't usually get offered a job at my age. If I enjoy this it could be regular income far after I'm too old to play around with the kindergarten and nursery school kids. I'm an early bird anyway. I've always believed in taking the opportunities that God drops before me. Didn't even Jabez ask God to enlarge his territory?"

Japan has so many rules and ceremonies and formalities. I'm not very happy about them but I have lived with all of them for 30 years. This is just jumping feet first into FORMAL, OFFICIAL Japan.

I would appreciate prayers for patience and contentment.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Yesterday my friend sent me a picture of her Japanese dolls put on display for Girls' Day, (March 3rd). The display is beautiful but can you see in the upper left-hand corner that a furry family member is up there too trying to look like one of the dolls? My friend's cat carefully made its way up the tiers and past all the dolls and implements, and delicately seated itself next to the Emperor doll at the top. Those are very expensive dolls so I hope the kitty continues to be careful about where it sits!

And though we are a little early I thought I'd show you some of the Girls' Day "dolls" I have around my house. (Actually my little traditional ones are still packed away in their box. I'll have to get them out this week...)

Tetsu brought these home last week from his convalescent home. The care workers were making a pair for each resident to decorate the dining room tables. I think they are made of milk cartons and Japanese paper and Styrofoam balls. So cute! And they rock back and forth when you touch them!

Then I got in on the act and decided to try some "origami" Girls' Day dolls. I had a little trouble figuring out the directions for these so they are not perfected yet. I'm going to have to try this again. The cats have great fun batting these around so they may not last very long...

And while I was at it I tried a paper doll that is cut out and pasted together rather than folded. Too many little pieces! (That sounds funny coming from a patchwork quilter.)

Can you tell why it takes me so long to finish quilting projects? I'm always ready to try something new!

Monday, February 22, 2010


I was EXHAUSTED yesterday after spend an hour at a training gym. I am definitely NOT a sports person.

Our little town recently built a multi-million dollar community center and gymnasium facility. One branch of the facility has conference rooms and classrooms and health related rooms, the other branch has a large gymnasium with multiple basketball courts and showers and a body building training room.

In order to use this very nice training room, the residents of Nikko must take an hour seminar to learn how to properly use the equipment. Last week Tetsu and I made reservations for the seminar and had a guided tour along with 10 other people. According to the reservations director we were come 10 minutes before that appointed time (in order to have our blood pressure taken and recorded) and to wear clothing that was "easy to move around in". Tetsu and I went in jeans which is the easiest clothing I have in my closet but we weren't allowed to use their machines that night because we weren't in "gym" clothing... Frown, frown. Not only Mr. Kokubo has to obey the dress codes...

So after church yesterday Tetsu bought me some gym clothes.... And then we went to the training room and played around on all their machines. Walking on their tread mill. Rowing. Step climbing. Elliptical machine (I don't think that's the right spelling but I don't know where to check...) Bicycling. Abs machine... More machines that I don't even know what they were supposed to be doing but I tried them all.

By the time we were finished I wanted to go to bed! But being hot and sweaty Tetsu wanted to go to the pool (on the other side of town) and sit in the sauna awhile... And the pool does have a nice hot bath and jacuzzi so we spent an hour there too. THEN I came home to collapse and get nothing else done for the rest of the evening!

I don't think I'm going to be a regular visitor to the training center... But I've got the gym clothes in case Tetsu invites me to join him again... Come to think of it, he was the one who suggested we join the swimming pool and I go far more often than he does! I don't think he'll get to the training center much either....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two projects down...

Y-kun's Happy Village quilt got quilted and returned to him this week. I about strangled him though because when I gave it back to him I said

"Now, don't go showing this to the other boys. They didn't have a chance to make one and they will be jealous. Leave it in the envelope until you get home. Now that's a promise right?"

"Oh, yes, yes. It's a secret between Tanya-sensei and me!"

Ha! The second I slipped it to Y-kun on his way out the door he started waving the envelope around and in a sing-song voice he taunted,

"I've a secret. YOU guys didn't get to do it! Too bad for you! You guys lost out and I had a lot of fun!"

Of course that sent the other four boys into gales of protest that Y-kun was teasing them and what was it that he had that they didn't get to have and why was I playing favorites with him again.

Sigh. I guess I should have been able to see that this was the way things were going to go with Y-kun... Ah well, one out of five boys happy...

And I spent yesterday putting a Prayer and Square quilt together. I must have shown this flimsy months back when I first made it (I try to keep one or two Prayer flimsies at hand) but I sandwiched it and basted it and put the ties on last night. I always think that if I just have a flimsy available that it will be a quick job to get it ready for being tied but it ISN'T a quick job! It took most of the day to put it all together. I wonder if I should go ahead and make flimsies AND sandwich them AND bind them before putting them aside... But that's being more organized than I want to be I guess.

AND I'm doing some paper piecing which I hope to show next week. I'm not a big fan of paper piecing but I have a project in mind so this is sort of a challenge. I'm thankful that I have always liked puzzles and brain teasers because that's what it feels like to put a complicated paper piece block together!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A new quilter

Yesterday I had the honor of helping a young expectant mother learn how to quilt.

Miku-san has never done patchwork before. A couple of weeks ago we went together to a fabric shop and she picked out some fabric and I taught her how to hand piece. She had only a small pocketbook sewing kit so we purchased some basics too, needles, pins, and thread. In a couple of hours she learned how to trace a template, cut pieces, hand piece and iron seams. I left her working on her first nine patch and offered to help her make a few if she began to feel overwhelmed.

This week Miku-san said she was ready to learn how to quilt and so yesterday she came to my house with her FINISHED flimsy! The pattern I had given her was in English (which wasn't so hard for her but the measurements in inches rather than centimeters provided a challenge) and so I had never expected her to get so far without my help!

Together we marked quilting lines (grid) with my quilter's ruler which she had never seen before and was very impressed with, and then we sandwiched her quilt and hand basted it. So far so good.

I had an extra quilting hoop and demonstrated how to hand quilt. Oh! I had forgotten the agonizing first stitches a new quilter tries to make! The hoop gets in the way, the needle doesn't go through the quilt sandwich, the stitches don't come out even, the thimbles fall off the fingers or wave around over and under the quilt never getting near the needle! I preceded all instructions with the phrases,

"This is the way it is supposed to be done. If you can't, then do it the way that is easiest for you. If you want to make future quilts it is worth it to practice the technique. You'll get the hang of it. It just takes practice."

Miku-san wanted her stitches to be perfect; to be tiny and even and beautiful on the back and the front.

"I didn't know it would be so hard... I thought I'd just have to push the needle through...."

"It's your first quilt. You can't expect it to be perfect. If you keep working at it by the time you finish this quilt you'll be a pro and your stitching will come naturally."

Again I offered to do part of the quilting for her if she got tired but she insisted that she wanted to make her baby a quilt all by herself...

"Okay, but don't try so hard that you go into early labor! Remember to relax and take breaks!"

I hope Miku-san enjoys herself, will be happy with her baby quilt and will want to go on to make other quilts in her lifetime.

"Ganbare Miku-san!" "Go at it, Miku-san!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kindergarten crafts

More snow today. I have a feeling I'm not going to get to my monthly patchwork group gathering. I'll miss my friends' company but as mentioned yesterday, I have a lot to keep me busy around here.

Yesterday I was at the kindergarten and managed to snap some pictures of the children doing some handwork. The oldest class (5 year olds) braid and sew a basket throughout the year. First they are taught braiding skills (holding the end of the rope between their toes and braiding towards themselves) and then they are taught to use a needle and thread.

This project has been going on at least 20 years because both my children have baskets that they sewed when they were in this same kindergarten. I noticed that the mothers have gotten fancy and have made a pincushion for each child fashioned from a soda bottle cap, fabric, cotton and elastic. My kids never had those in their day. Notice how it fits on the thumb as the person sews.

The teachers make sure that each child has made a basket by the end of the year but of course some children are faster than others and don't need much help. Those kids get to graduate onto felting and a few of the girls were busy stabbing balls of wool into different shaped cookie cutters to make felt figures. This is a new project from my kids' days. I'd like to try this too!

And there were a couple girls (extremely advanced?) who were busily making pompoms. Measuring out yarn, tying the centers, cutting to equal lengths and then attaching the pompoms to elastic and ribbon for hair decorations and bracelets (I guess.)

And finally, here is my handcraft for the day... I finished up the Bunny Hill May BOM and am ready to cross that off of yesterday's list.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Too many projects

You know, for someone who doesn't have a lot of quilty material on her blog, I sure am involved in a lot of unfinished projects... Yesterday I listed the ones I'm working on and the ones I need to work on and the ones I've got downloaded and am ready to start and I counted 16. And nothing to show for any them!

This is a little unnerving because I fear that the bigger ones won't get finished in my lifetime... The smaller ones sort of dribble into the free minutes in my day... A couple of them are participant projects (bazaar quilt, Mini-Round Robin) so they should go quickly, and I am ahead on the Bunny Hill BOM, but the list hardly fits on one page.

Marie sent me a link this week and that was what sent me scurrying to tally up my projects and see if I can squeeze in another one. If you are a cat fan (and so many of you are!) and like to do stitchery (and I was saying my eyes wouldn't hold out for another embroidery project!) this is absolutely darling. Today I'm off to the next town over for a day of teaching. And I'm stopping at the craft shop to pick some more embroidery floss.... Pray that I'm not tempted by anything else new.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The big news this week on Japanese TV is about how the Japanese Olympic delegation barred their star Olympic snowboarder, Kazuhiro Kokubo, from attending the opening ceremonies in Vancouver. The reason? The way he wore his uniform was inappropriate for an Olympic athlete representing Japan. The Japanese congress even got in on this and had a debate about whether the boy should be allowed to compete at all!

Oh dear. The boy is 21. Personally I don't like his style but it doesn't mean he isn't a good snowboarder. But he is supposed to be representing Japan to the rest of the world and to wear dreadlocks, have two piercings in his nose, let his tie hang loose and have his shirttail out while dragging his pants around his hips... This is a no-no in Japanese eyes... And when questioned about his appearance the boy gave a rather undiplomatic "Ah, ****~" (In Japanese of course, which comes out quite mildly as swear words go...)

Goodness. Don't tell me Mr. Kokubo sprouted those dreadlocks overnight or didn't have his nose pierced from awhile back. He's been going to college looking like this. But a uniform is a uniform and wearing the uniform in such a fashion is a slap in the face to all the people who are supporting him (and his fan club disbanded because of all this too!)

When Takumi was in high school he had to wear a uniform. And he wore it in about the same way that Mr. Kokubo wears his! Low pants, (I had to cut strings off of the fraying pants cuffs), shirttail out and loose tie, (as well as ripped jacket, torn bag, smashed leather shoes, etc. etc......) Takumi and I both hated that uniform. Yeah, it was a slap in my face too! What kind of mother raises a child that looks like this!

In Japan there is an English test that is sponsored by the government (I guess) and that jr. high and high school kids are encouraged/required to take. There are many levels and the kids must apply, go to a designated testing area, take a paper test and then a few weeks later take an interview test. For my kids this wasn't a big deal. Takumi passed the paper test easily. A few weeks later he went for the interview and since it was given on a Sunday (and not at the school) Takumi did NOT wear his uniform... Low pants, a sweat shirt, sneakers... And when the interview results came back he HADN'T passed! Hey, that's a surprise! Takumi's spoken English and comprehension was much better than most kids his age so what happened. On the result card there was a memo that he had marks taken off for ATTITUDE. Hmm. Takumi's not ornery. He makes a good first impression. What did you do, son, to lose ATTITUDE points? Nothing that he could think of...

When talking with a teacher friend about Takumi's results, she asked if he had worn his uniform that day. Oh no, it wasn't a school day.

"Tanya, students get points taken off if they aren't in uniform. They have to look like students. Tell Takumi to wear his uniform and look good at the re-test."

I passed the information on to Takumi who thought the whole system ridiculous.

"How does what I wear have any connection with how much I speak or understand English?"

"I don't know, but I suggest you play by "their" rules if you want to pass "their" test."

At the re-test a week or so later, Takumi went dressed in his uniform and he passed his test with no marks off for ATTITUDE.

Japan places great value on looking alike and at least on the outside playing the roles properly. I do hope that Mr. Kokubo does well in the snowboarding event just so that he won't give people more opportunity to criticize.

Here's my son impersonating a gang member and a "good boy".

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cats and more cats

Cats and cats and more cats. They spend most of the day sleeping or meowing for more food or urping up on the carpet. One or two keep my feet warm at night. A couple sit and look out the window once or twice a day.

Only Mi does anything that attracts attention. She LOVES to play and turns anything into a toy.

Tetsu and Mi have a love affair going.

Mi has three or four stuffed animals and mice that she throws into the air and wrestles with. You can just see that she is pretending to be a ferocious tiger. Other times she is happy to bat the lamp pull back and forth occasionally turning the light off or on for us.

Let's see. I guess Toi and Patora are trying to earn their keep... They have learned to turn on the washing machine and do the laundry.

Toi and Patora get locked in the laundry room at feeding time with the door locked (small cord on a nail--they know how to open doors too). As soon as they finish eating the two of them jump on the washing machine asking to be let out. More often than not, one of them will step on the START button. That really doesn't do anything but put the washing machine in starting mode for a few minutes until someone pushes the ACTIVATE button. If the ACTIVATE button doesn't get pushed within a certain length of time the washing machine will turn itself off. BUT... with Toi and Patora are trouncing all over the washing machine they sometimes manage to stomp on the ACTIVATE button and then I hear the washing machine filling and swishing and washing a load of clothes. Toi and Patora are very undependable about fulfilling their laundry duties. They need a little more training...

And here we have another cat ball. 5 of the 6 cats gathered on the sofa in the sunlight. We need a new sofa just so that Tetsu has someplace to sit!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I am afraid Tetsu and I don't enjoy seeing movies together because of our different tastes. Tetsu finds me very limiting...

"Okay. What shall we see? You don't like love stories. You don't like horror stories. You aren't fond of musicals and you absolutely refuse to see an animal story. Science Fiction is out, anything with too much violence or s*x is out. Not too thrilled about mysteries nor action. There's not too much left for us to watch, Tanya."

Last week Tetsu was at the video store picking out a video for us to see.

"I picked out two. Maybe you'll enjoy at least one of them! The first one is really popular. There were lots of DVD cases for this one but there was only one DVD left. It MUST be a good movie if so many people are renting it!"

Think again. Somewhere through the first 30 minutes the monsters and aliens started appearing.

"Tetsu. I'm not watching this. It is dumb and revolting and I don't care how many people have rented it, you can watch it alone."

And I disappeared upstairs with my Kindle.

The next night Tetsu came home early (relatively).

"Okay. Last night's movie was a flop but I'm sure you'll like this one. It has won International awards! Just sit down and enjoy."

Yes, sit down... And watch 5 minutes...

"Ummm. Tetsu. This movie is not in English."

Tetsu didn't realize that. He knows I have to use my brain a bit more than I usually do to watch a non-English movie because that means I have to read the Japanese sub-titles. I don't know why there wasn't English for this DVD but there wasn't. And reading Japanese subtitles at the speed which sub-titles change is a challenge for me.

Yes, this was probably a very good movie. But not lighthearted and it had more violence than I like. I actually watched it again with the director's comments (in English) and was given a lot of food for thought. Tetsu slept through the English so we still didn't really watch this movie TOGETHER.

We should have lived in the Saturday night with Disney era.

I've never been able to watch Lady and the Tramp though....

Saturday, February 13, 2010


This morning Tetsu and I were at the local department store just as they were opening their doors and we had to laugh when the whole arsenal of clerks and department store girls bowed to us as we made our way through the store. All the personnel stood at attention on either side of the main aisles and with hands clasped over their navels, bowed a proper 30 degree angle bow to each of their customers and formally welcomed us.

"Irrashaimase." 'Welcome (to our store)."

Sort of like being greeted by robots that were activated by motion sensors. No eye contact, modulated voices and plastic smiles from each and every one of them. Might they be mistaking me for the Queen? Should I bow back to them? Nod royally?

As we quickly walked to the book department I whispered to Tetsu,

"Would someone get angry if I took their picture?"

but he shushed me up and hurried us on. I don't know how long the clerks bowed to people. Probably only for the first couple minutes or until they needed to offer assistance to someone.

When I first came to Japan there were elevator girls and escalator girls in all the department stores but I think those jobs have faded from the Japanese employment scene. The escalator girl's job was to stand for hours at the bottom of an escalator with a dainty towel in her white gloved hand and wipe the escalator hand rail. She didn't really wipe, she just held the towel to the hand rail and bowed over and over and over to all the people who were so kind as to ride her escalator. I read somewhere that a Japanese escalator girl bowed 2500 times a day!

For awhile I thought that maybe being a Japanese escalator girl might be the most boring job in the world. Wrong. I decided that an even more boring job was being a Japanese elevator girl. I even knew someone who had this job for a few years before she married! A Japanese elevator girl just rode up and down in an elevator all day manning the elevator buttons with her white gloved hands.

"Ue ni mairimasu." "We are going up." and the gloved hand would gesture upwards.

"San-kai de gozaimasu." "We are on the third floor." and the gloved hand would brush tenderly over the elevator doors lightly holding them open while keeping a finger of the other hand on the elevator OPEN button.

I don't think the elevator girl experienced as much back pain doing her job (very difficult to make a 30 degree angle bow in such a tight space) and I suppose announcing each floor and elevator direction added variety to her life but being trapped in a crowded, dark elevator for hours on end in high heels, a tight skirt and a cute hat does not make it on the most popular jobs list.

I must say that being greeted by the department staff today brought a smile to my face and let me know that someone would be around if I needed them. (pictures from the Internet)

"Irrashaimase." "Welcome (to my blog)."